Berlin II Guidelines for Mining and Sustainable Development
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, adopted Agenda 21 as the programme for sustainable development for the 21st century. Agenda 21 emphasized the need for guidelines for natural resources development. Five years later, at the special session of the United Nations General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of Agenda 21 held in New York (United Nations Earth Summit + 5), member states reaffirmed their belief that the comprehensive implementation of Agenda 21 remains important.
In recent years, the Department of Economic and Social Development and its Division for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have received requests from a number of countries to provide guidance for mining and sustainable development. The first edition of Environmental Guidelines for Mining Operations was published in 1994, as a useful outcome to the 1991 Berlin Round Table on Mining and the Environment organized by the United Nations and the German Foundation for International Development.
Since the publication of the first edition of the Guidelines, continuing changes have occurred within the mining sector—particularly in the evolution of legal, fiscal and regulatory policies, accompanying the trend of liberalization and privatization of the industry. Among other things, environmental conditions attached to credit and insurance have raised the profile of environmental planning and management of sustainable development. There have also been major advances in voluntary actions by industry and the standardization of environmental management systems.
During this period, significant advances have been made in defining and promoting best practices in the sustainable management and operation of mining projects. These advances have often been stimulated by the attention of pressure groups, the media, and public opinion. Many of the major mining companies have now started to work in partnership with regulators and the local communities to maximize corporate, national and community benefits, while minimizing the social and physical impacts.
In the policy arena, national and international conventions and standards, corporate trends, voluntary industry codes and the increasing use of environmental management systems have also contributed to changes in the regulation of the mining sector. This second edition of the Guidelines builds on the first, reflecting these changes and looks at them in the context of developments in more formal legislation.
These Guidelines address:
- mining and sustainable development;
- regulatory frameworks;
- environmental management;
- voluntary undertakings; and
- community consultation and development;
as applied to all stages of a mining operation comprising:
- decommissioning; and
- closure and rehabilitation;
and include a section on small-scale and artisanal mining.
The increasingly integrated and collaborative nature of sustainable development programmes means that all those involved—governments, companies, labour unions, communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—need to understand the interlocking nature of the various individual tools and concepts described in these Guidelines. It is also essential that different government departments at all levels work together in close cooperation to achieve a project that brings long-term gains to the region and the country while minimizing environmental and social costs.
The information contained in these Guidelines consists of recent examples of environmental legislation and management practices from countries around the world, which have an existing mining industry. Many of the examples reflect the legal and administrative context of the country from which they are drawn. As such, they should not be taken as blueprints simply to be copied elsewhere, but should be adapted to suit country-specific conditions. Each country must decide for itself how to construct and implement its own regulatory framework.
These Guidelines are intended to provide general guidance for sound and sustainable management and are not a prescriptive manual. They should be amended and improved according to the specific needs of each country. They are meant to be of assistance to regulators, practitioners, managers, government officials, mining companies and others interested in the mining industry.